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Greek ferry routes to Lesvos suspended

- by Archimedes

Greek Island ferry routes suspended.

Greek island holiday visitors hoping to catch a ferry to Lesvos will have to think again. Ferry operator NEL Lines has axed services to many north Aegean islands just as the main tourist holiday season gets under way. Lesvos has been cut off from all ferry routes to other Greek islands for the past 20 days and there is little prospect of services being resumed this summer.

Other islands hit by the axing of services include Samos and Ikaria while the island of Limnos now has no ferries to the Athen's port of Piraeus.

Islanders call this a cruel economic and social blow to the islands just as summer holiday visitors are expected to reach their peak.

NEL Lines blame the cuts in service on crucial work needed on the ferry Theofilos which normally operated the north Aegean route.

The car passenger ferry was built in 1985 and can carry up to 1,660 passengers and has room for 440 cars.

The suspension of services has been condemned by Limnos Mayor Antonis Hatzidiamantis: "It's like they want to condemn Lemnos, a nationally sensitive island. We expected to live off tourism, but unfortunately the success story didn't work for our island."

NEL Lines was established in 1972 with many residents of Lesvos signing up for shares in the company. The ferry firm has since expanded and serves most of the Aegean island destinations including passenger-ferry boats between Piraeus, Chios and Mitilini as well as connecting the islands of Northern Aegean with Thessaloniki, Kavala and Lavrion.

High-speed and conventional passenger-ferry now also serve several Cycladic islands with ports at Syra and Lavrion. There are also ferry routes to Chios, Heraklion and Rethimno in Crete and to Santorini and Thessaloniki as wells as routes between Volos and the Sporades islands.